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October 27, 2020
Jamaica bishops on Pope’s comments
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Conversion therapy – harmful or not?

The determined promotion of the LGBTQ+ agenda has gone so far as to ban all sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and gender identity change efforts (GICE) by licenced professional counsellors, for minors as well as for adults who voluntarily seek such help.

This was the case in August this year in Anchorage, Alaska, where the local Assembly passed such an ordinance (FRC Action, September 2, 2020).

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council (FRC), warned the Assembly that the ordinance could be challenged on the grounds that it would violate such constitutional principles as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and parental rights, as well as basic ethical principles of the counselling profession, such as confidentiality, privacy, and client autonomy.

In September 2019 a district court judge in Tampa, Florida, struck down a ban on therapy for minors on the basis that Florida state law did not permit regulation of healthcare by local government, but he also signalled that the scientific evidence that such bans should be imposed was weak.

Sprigg also pointed the Anchorage Assembly to the case of the New York City Council which repealed a ban on therapy even for those adults actively seeking it, after it was challenged in court by a licenced Jewish psychotherapist.

Sarah Kramer of the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) underscored the duplicity of the ordinance in a  January 24, 2019 post on the ADF website:

“Under this law, a counselor is free to help a patient explore, develop, or gain comfort with same-sex attractions or almost any gender identity imaginable … But the law prohibits a counselor from assisting a patient who wishes to reduce same-sex attraction or achieve comfort in a gender identity that matches her or his physical body.”

International pressure to ban SOCE and GICE, variously referred to as “conversion or reparative therapy”, is mounting, on the grounds that such therapy is harmful.

A  June 21, 2020 UN News article reports that the UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, is calling for a global ban on such “bogus therapies”.

According to Rachel Savage in a  February 26 Thompson Reuters Foundation News’ article, to date, only Brazil, Ecuador and Malta have national bans on conversion therapy.

Dr Philip M Sutton, a licenced marriage and family therapist who has worked with Courage, an international apostolate of the Catholic Church which ministers to persons with same-sex attractions, challenges the imposition of such bans on the basis of claims that they are harmful.

In an article published in Volume 82, 2015, Issue 4, of the Linacre Quarterly, ‘Professional care for unwanted same-sex attraction: What does the research say?’,  Dr Sutton establishes that  (1) “all mental-health services for all personal and interpersonal concerns have a potential for harm” and (2) “responsible science has not yet shown whether the degree of risk for harm from professional care for unwanted same-sex attraction (SSA) is greater, the same as, or less than the risk for any other psychotherapy.”

He points out that it is therefore deceitful to ban such care on the basis of the potential harm that it can cause, and concludes that “persons who experience unwanted SSAs and behaviors have the right to receive professional care to try to change … these feelings and behaviors if they choose to do so.”

This concurs with the teaching of article 2359 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “Homosexual persons … by the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom … can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”

We invoke the intercession of Pope St John Paul II, great defender of the natural law, so that right reason will prevail in this matter.


A monthly column by the Emmanuel Community: 46 Rosalino Street, Woodbrook.Tel:628-1064;